We live in a result oriented world.
We not only want to attain results, but want to attain them as easily as possible, as quickly as possible and in the shortest time possible. With the proliferation of the internet we have a quick access to thousands of websites that offer us tips on how to get whatever results we want, be they physical, monetary, financial, etc. Here are some examples offered online: 6 body building tips for faster results; Lose weight fast: quick result diet plans; 12 rules of learning a foreign language fast; 7 ways to make money fast, and 3 ways to win people to Christ. Because of these promises, that, results are attainable fast, humans are losing the ability to pursue endeavors that do not seem to yield tangible results as quickly as possible. One such endeavour is the spiritual discipline of evangelism whereby one is often faced with “few results” if I may use the words of David Livingstone, that pioneer missionary.
When I began evangelizing, I wanted quick and fast results for my efforts, but was instead constantly discouraged by the “few results syndrome”. The people I shared with rejected the message with both subtle and vehement rejections respectively: let me think about it or you have your religion and I have mine. Above all, my sense of failure was heightened whenever a well meaning Christians asked me: “So how is ministry going?” Often, I would hesitate to answer because the word on the tip was: badly. But I never said it. Instead I had learned to say, “I thank God”. Usually I would pray that the conversation would end there, but it did not.
“So how many souls have you won to Christ?”
“Well, x number of people heard the gospel… but none of them accepted Christ.”
Although they would offer comforting platitudes, a sense of failure hung on me like a cheap scent – I had no results to show for my labours. Then, results depended on the numbers who accepted Christ. But as I kept soldiering on I began to understand sweet results or fruit of evangelism.
Of course, the obvious result or fruit of evangelism is the people who come to the knowledge of salvation and are added to the church. Harvesting of souls remains and will remain the most celebrated and rewarded step in the evangelism continuum.Those who are involved in the other steps, of sowing and watering, will often remain obscure. This is why Jesus must have given the cautionary words to check the possibility of pride in those who seemed to bear much fruit: ”For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” (John 4:37-38). Paul also warns the Corinthian church that was prone to elevate some labourers over others, ”I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (1 Cor 3:6-8). This was a great affirmation that although the rewards of evangelism included winning a soul to Christ, they went beyond that to include every effort made to even give a cup of water.
We all want to work for results. This is because getting results for our labours is something ingrained in our DNA thus an unbreachable law of nature. God created us to be productive, to bear much fruit. It is therefore important to understand that even when a soul is not won into the kingdom we have born fruit. One such fruit is the fruit of obedience. Whenever an evangelist obeys the Great Commission, they have already been successful in kingdom currency. Christ Jesus talks about the fruit borne of obedience: Love and God’s abiding presence: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, my father will love him and we will come and make a home with him.” O to be loved by God and for His presence to be with you till the end of the age, what can beat that? In God’s presence is fullness of joy and benefits untold. We get them when we evangelize.
Many people dream of working for great multinationals or being affiliated with greatness, how much more with the kingdom of God. When God saves a person He invites them to be involved with Him in his work; the work He sent His Son Christ Jesus to accomplish: To seek that which was lost. The lost cannot be saved unless people are sent to to tell them for faith only comes by hearing the word of God. When we obey the call to share the good news we partake of the high privilege of being co- workers and ambassadors of Christ. In this manner we walk in the identity of Christ, our feet become Christ’s feet; beautiful feet that bring good news, proclaim peace, bring good tidings and proclaim salvation to the lost. This privilege to share the message is one of those unmeasurable fruits of evangelism.
Joy is another fruit of evangelism that many people tend to overlook. Whenever we heed the call to share the gospel, we begin to see the power of God at work. We experience first hand the promised signs and wonders promised by Christ Jesus: the blind see, the lame walk, demons flee. The first disciples of Christ experienced this joy when they returned from a evangelistic venture as is attested to in the tenth chapter of Luke: ”Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Luke 10:17). This kind of joy cannot be experienced by those who stay at home or in safe places, this joy is only the result of heeding the call to make disciples of all nations by sowing seeds of the gospel among the lost:
Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him. ( Psalm 126:5-6)
When Christians steer clear from the “difficult task” of evangelizing, they miss out on the benefit of understanding their faith and all that God has promised. They accept what they are taught without question: Justification by faith alone, sanctification, doctrine of the Trinity etc. Blessed are they who do not question. However when you begin sharing your faith with people of other belief systems, these dearly held doctrines are put under the grill: Why should one man die for the sins of all men? How Can God Father, Son and Holy Spirit be equal to one God? You cannot escape these questions with pat answers: only believe! No you will have to wrestle with these questions, ready yourself with answers and share them with those who question just as the Apostle Peter exhorted: “But..always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear”. (1 Peter 3:15). As we give reason for our belief, we gain a deeper understanding and “come to know all the blessings Christ has given us.” (Philemon 1:6)
Evangelism carries with it the promise of a reward in hereafter. God is a rewarder and he calls those who believe in Him to work for Him while anticipating a reward: “anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). When we stand before His throne, we will not be judged on the grounds of our salvation, but each man will be rewarded according to His works. Paul understood this fact well and his words are a great encouragement for us to abound in the Lord’s work because at the right time we will be rewarded. It is for this reason that he encouraged Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (1 Timothy 4:2), “run in such a way as to win the prize”, (1 Timothy 4:7) “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) . Why did he need to do this? Because, there were crowns of righteousness laid up for those who labour for the Lord and love His appearing.(2 Timothy 4:8). This coming reward is something we should focus on as we share the gospel with seeming few results.
Since we desire quicker and faster results, even in the area of evangelism, the trick is to start at once without making excuses. The reason evangelizing the lost has not borne the results we desire is because few are obeying the commission to reach out because they think it is optional. It is not. When we begin to see it as compulsory for every believer and begin to obey, all the results attributable to it will begin to rain down. And our focus will shift from the few results we see now, to the overall big picture just as David Livingstone did: “And although I see few results, future generations will see conversions following every sermon. May they not forget the pioneers who worked in the thick gloom with few days to cheer them, except such as flow from faith in the promises of God’s Word.”
You desire to see quicker and faster results from evangelism in the next few hours, days, weeks or months? You want to see people saved quickly? Start now. Share the good news with those around you. The moment you begin, your results begin. There is no such thing as a fruitless evangelism. Every act of evangelism bears fruit when everyone plays their assigned role to the best of their ability with the resources they have been given.